Jewish Values Stand With The Workers of Golan’s Moving and Storage

August 22, 2014

Rabbi Ben Greenberg

For almost a month the workers of Skokie, Ill. based Golan’s Moving and Storage have been on strike. The nearly 80 employees of the locally owned moving company voted to form a union at the end of 2013 in response to numerous unfair labor practices and outright reports of illegal activities. For example, there are currently 10 complaints of wage theft against the company under active investigation at the Department of Labor. Workers would be told to work a 14 hour day but only get paid for 8 of those hours. Since organizing as a union the employees have been unsuccessful in multiple attempts to negotiate a contract with the owners. The owners have cancelled negotiation dates nearly 6 times. All of this behavior is clearly in violation of not only ethics but of Jewish law and Jewish values.

Read the rest of this entry »


From Membership to Leadership: Equipping Our Members With Tools for Organizing

August 11, 2014
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Members write down their thoughts about social justice in an ice-breaker activity.

On Thursday, JCUA convened our second member meeting. Following our first meeting in June, the intention of this meeting was to teach skills and frameworks essential for effective organizing.

By equipping our members with some of the same training and tools used by professional organizers, we aim to empower our lay leaders to advance our organizing work with greater efficacy and impact. We hosted our meeting at Yusho, a trendy Japanese restaurant in Logan Square.

Unlike our last meeting, JCUA staff took a back seat and allowed members to conduct the majority of the meeting. JCUA member Stacey Aviva Flint managed the agenda for the evening, allowing all attendees to review and approve of the agenda. Member Shannon Cochran then led a workshop on leadership development. Shannon presented a model of leadership development that relies on building organizational power by rotating leadership positions and allowing opportunities for growth among as many members as possible.

Unlike leadership models that house knowledge and power in the hands of a few, we are offering our members to take the reins as much as possible. Rather than rely on a “head,” “brain,” or “heart” of a committee or task force, we are operating under the premise that we are all stem cells with the ability to assume the responsibilities of leadership.

JCUA’s leadership model is rooted in our own Jewish heritage. A text study – organized by Rabbi Ben Greenberg – demonstrated how leadership models shifted in Judaism after the destruction of the second temple. As Judaism’s leadership moved away from priests and towards rabbis, more people gained access to Jewish knowledge, empowerment, and connection with God.  We are inspired by our tradition to advance leadership in a way that brings more people into the fold. Read the rest of this entry »


Jewish-Muslim Bridge Building During Summer 2014

June 2, 2014

The Jewish-Muslim Community Building Initiative (JMCBI) is a core component of the work of JCUA in building bridges with communities impacted by discrimination. JMCBI began in 2001 in response to the tremendous rise of Islamophobia after the terrorist attacks on 9/11. During the past 14 years JMCBI has created inter-religious dialogues, cultural events and stood in solidarity with both Jews and Muslims against Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism. We are excited to share two developments happening over the summer of 2014 that will further the work of Jewish-Muslim bridge building.

Zoë ReinsteinWe welcome Zoë Reinstein to JCUA as the Jewish-Muslim Community Building Initiative summer intern! Zoë is from Highland Park, IL and is no stranger to JCUA. Zoë is a third generation participant in the work of Jewish social justice with JCUA beginning with her grandfather. She is an incoming sophomore at Oberlin College and became activated in interfaith work when she participated in Hands of Peace last summer. During the summer Zoë will be instrumental in helping us grow JMCBI’s activities and making sure the annual Iftar in the Synagogue is a success!

Chicago SinaiThis summer we are thrilled to be working on our 9th annual Iftar in the Synagogue. This is one of the highlights of the year in Chicago for Jewish and Muslim interfaith engagement. The theme for Iftar this year is Rekindle Our Faith, Renew Our Community and we will be focusing on how we can bring a new spirit of justice to our city through the lens of our faith traditions. We are grateful to Chicago Sinai Congregation for hosting the 2014 Iftar in their beautiful synagogue in the heart of downtown. Space is limited this year so please RSVP online to reserve a spot. There is no mandatory cost to attend while a donation is always appreciated which helps cover the cost for the delicious catered kosher and hallal dinner.

Mark your calendar for the Iftar on July 17th at 6:30pm taking place at Chicago Sinai Congregation (15 W. Delaware Pl., Chicago). The synagogue is easily accessible by public transit or you can drive and park at 1 E. Delaware Pl. and bring your ticket to the synagogue to have it validated for discounted parking.

Action Items:

1) RSVP to attend Iftar in the Synagogue

2) Volunteer at Iftar in the Synagogue



From Immigration to Gun Violence: JCUA Stands with Families Torn Apart

April 29, 2014

In the past five years nearly two million individuals have been deported from the United States. Fathers and mothers taken from children. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins separated from their families. The trauma of loss and disconnection profoundly felt as people grapple with the disappearance of those closest to them.

Two million is too many!

We are standing together with our partners throughout the Chicagoland area and demanding the end to deportations. The voice of each individual experiencing detention and deportation can become silenced by the system that overwhelms them. However, when we all come together and demand change that collective voice cannot be silenced.

May 1st, JCUA is joining with our partners to march from Haymarket Square (175 N. Desplaines) to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (101 W. Congress Pkwy). Please join us beginning at 3 pm and declare that we will no longer accept as normal that families should be torn apart by a broken immigration system.

Later that evening continuing our focus on families torn apart we turn our attention to the horrible plague of gun violence. We will join together with our community partner, Fierce Women of Faith, for an important mother-son dialogue about the challenges of parenthood and the forces that would turn the young men in communities throughout Chicago to a life of violence and death. Please join us in the evening on May 1st from 6:30 – 8:30 pm at DuSable Museum. Tickets can be purchased in advance here.

128 years ago as people peacefully demonstrated for an eight hour workday in Haymarket Square that would enable parents to spend more time with their children a bomb was thrown and the lives of at least 11 people were ended. 125 years later through both the devastation and gun violence and an unjust immigration system millions of people have been ripped away from their families and lives have been destroyed. Join JCUA at either one or both of these events on May 1st as we stand together for families.

Details of the Events:

(1) “Two Million, Too Many” Immigration March

Haymarket Square (175 N. Desplaines) at 3 pm marching to the office of ICE (101 W. Congress Pkwy)

(2) “Question Bridge: Black Males – Mother to Son: A Frank Discussion and Letters of Love”

6:30 pm at the DuSable Museum of African American History. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased in advance on the museum website.


Meet Or Tzedek’s Summer Staff

April 18, 2014

We would like to introduce our Or Tzedek summer counselors, Wendy Mironov, Ari Weber, Graie Barasch-Hagans and Hannah Arwe.  We are excited to welcome such experienced and passionate people to the team.

>>> Learn more about Or Tzedek’s two week overnight summer program<<<

wendypicWendy Mironov

Wendy’s  work on social justice issues began in college when she joined the Workers’ Rights Center of Madison’s campaign to stop wage theft at a local restaurant and continued through her travels.

Currently, in Chicago, Wendy is involved in immigrants rights and education justice movement work.  She also recently completed nursing school and works at the Chicago Women´s Health Center, a sliding scale health collective on Chicago’s north side. She is active in the Jewish community as an alumni of AVODAH and Moishe  House Chicago, and as a current member of Jewish Solidarity and Action for Schools.

When Wendy closes her eyes, she sees her dream Jewish community. This community is engaged in social justice and movement building as a central part of its practice of Judaism.  This dream, combined with her love of cooking huge meals for dozens of people, makes her very excited to staff Or Tzedek this summer!

Ari Weber

Ari is 29 years old and will be a fourth year rabbinical school student at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with degrees in both social welfare and Hebrew.

Following college, Ari spent four of the following five years in Israel learning in yeshiva, serving in the Nachal Brigade of the Israeli army. He volunteered in Tiveria at the Youth Futures branch of the Jewish Agency and in Tsfat at Livnot U’Lihibanot, an outreach program involving hiking, volunteering, and light spirituality. Ari has just completed his third year of rabbinical school studying in Israel at Yeshivat Har Etzion in Gush Etzion. Upon completion of his studies, he is looking into either working on Hillel campuses or in the chaplaincy field.

 

Or Tzedek Bio PicGraie Barasch-Hagans

Graie is a St. Louis native who is currently living in Philadelphia while pursuing a Masters in Public Policy from the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers.

Last year he spent a year in service through Americorps Vista in New Orleans. Graie is an active member of Kol Tzedek, a Reconstructionist Synagogue in West Philly.

He is passionate about Judaism, social justice, public education, and working with youth. Graie is excited to be spending this summer with Or Tzedek!

 

headshot or tzedekHannah Arwe

Hannah is currently finishing her master’s degree in Women’s & Gender Studies at DePaul University.  She has a passion for social activism, specifically when it is grounded in principles of transformative justice and community accountability.

Hannah has focused most of her educational and professional efforts in anti-violence work, specifically domestic violence and youth violence, and has been educating Chicago youth as well as advocating for survivors of domestic violence since she moved to Chicago 3 years ago.

At DePaul, her research has focused on anti-racism and dismantling white privilege.  Hannah is excited to bring her Jewish identity into her social justice work, and can’t wait to get started at Or Tzedek this summer!


JCUA Responds to This Past Weekend’s Violence

April 14, 2014

As Jews across the country prepare for Passover, I am with my extended family in Los Angeles. Though the metropolitan area here is more than triple the size of Chicago, it is the Chicago weekend violence statistics that I am following, along with the shootings at two Jewish Community facilities in metropolitan Kansas City . It is a bloody, violent weekend.

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We all feel the reverberations of gunfire. We mourn the victims who we don’t know and will never meet. We mourn with the parents, children, and grandchildren left behind, bereft and shell-shocked. 

JCUA’s Justice Seder earlier this month was entitled “From Handguns to Hope”. Those who attended were moved and inspired, and left feeling a little more powerful and a little less helpless. We must strengthen our resolve to come together in solidarity with those who are suffering to address this scourge, the modern-day plague of rampant gun violence.

On the eve of Passover, as we recall and retell the story of our peoples’ oppression, let us remember the communities who suffered great loss this weekend, and all due to gun violence. It has to stop.

Please join us. We need to pull together now more than ever.

Judy Levey, Exec. Dir.

P.S. In the wake of these shootings, we are more committed than ever to the work of our partners responding to gun violence.  Fierce Women Of Faith are sponsoring a Mother/Son Dialogue on May 1st at the DuSable Museum.  Click here for more information.


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